TiguidankÃ© Camara, a former fashion model turned mining magnate, has seen her business dealings halted because of the Ebola outbreak. Through her companies, Tigui Mining Group and Camara Diamond & Gold Trading Network, she owns gold and diamond mining assets in her home country of Guinea. She is in discussion with the Abidjan government to launch a gold and diamond mining operation.
She says entrepreneurs from the U.S. must learn the culture while exercising great patience. “In the U.S., time is money. This ideology is fine when you have a great system and processes that ensure the smooth flow of business and people who have internalized the belief. This is not the case for most countries in Africa. But in Africa, things move a lot slower,â€ she says. “There is the tendency for frustration with Americans who come down here. It is essential to remember things just don’t function the same way. This is not the United States. This is Africa.â€
Be prepared to deal with other vagaries of operating in an African setting. For instance, Harrington tells female entrepreneurs that they could face gender bias in some countries but they can’t let it deter them from pursuing business goals.
Camara strongly suggests business owners learn and understand the local culture. “When you go to the villages, it is custom to bring a symbolic present to the elders as a sign of respect. It is very different from bribery which is more of a quid pro quo relationship,â€ she says.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the final chapter part 5.